‘The Kingdom of the moon’. I pondered the phrase as I walked. It seemed to me it had a fantastic sound to it. It beckoned at once being upon the moon and being bathed in its light. It conjured a land of moon beings ordered by some alien monarchy. In this reverie the luna folk were nearly visible, yet not quite so. An amalgam of a the concepts of pallid light and humanoid form just out of view. In the inchoate scene they lingered outside a cratered clearing bathed also in silver light.
The image faded and I returned to the stony luminescent world continuing up the path. Ambrose now was sometimes but a moving shape up ahead and sometimes he would disappear entirely. This disappearance though was not his having moved out of sight but rather simply his having stopped moving at all. The poverty of light and his unutterable stillness rendered him seemingly impossible to spot. Only when I got within feet of him would he start walking again. I walked on after him until a moonlit twilight became a moonlit dusk. The stones grew bigger and more dominating until at last they took over the whole of the landscape. Imposing boulders and monoliths rose around me out of the darkness. The path was less of a path than a series of rocky slabs that picked their way between the higher stones. I scrambled on as Ambrose danced nimbly like a goat from rock to rock. Only the moonlight saved me from serious injury. This incredible lithic scape went on also for an age such that I began to feel tired again. Ahead Ambrose paused again. This time he waited until I had fully gained him. “My dear…” he began “…we have nearly reached our destination though there is one last path. It begins just yards from here as we go between two great stones, there all will be dark and if I lose you in this place, I shall never find you again. From this point onwards you must here take my hand and hold it tight no matter what happens. If you manage this all will be well.” Instinctively, with the same insane trust that had carried me this far, I took his hand. It was warm to the touch and firm in its grip. “Now you must walk at my speed.” he said in his jovial tone and with no warning, he set off again across the rocky landscape near dragging me as he went. I don’t know how I kept up, every footstep was a guess, a dice roll, yet somehow I always landed correctly. I was just beginning to feel a confidence in walking at this speed when the two vast rocks loomed towards us. For the purpose of illumination though their separation was practically artificial. That is, such was their size that as the path went between them, it was just as Ambrose said and the moonlight failed the chasm entirely. I held his hand tighter in trepidation and blundered into the black passage.
Apart from the darkness what was different about the black path was that underfoot there was no longer rock, instead the ground felt what could be best described as a peculiar sand, at any rate it was soft. From now on this strange sandy floor, Ambrose’s hand, and the occasional brush with the rocky side was all my reality consisted of, all else was blackness. My sense initially was that we would walk between the rocks and emerge quickly; it soon became clear that this would not happen. The sandy floored blackness continued relentlessly. Though now even through the eerie calm that had carried me along I began to become more and more frightened. A wind began to blow through the passage and though it was blacker than pitch it seemed I could often see a mist that blew past me. As time went on the misty forms grew more common, swirling in eddies by me as they went. I tried not to look for I began to feel there were faces that looked out from it with hollow gossamer eyes. Averting my gaze downwards though was no comfort, for it seemed that as I looked I could see a void of space beneath me, filled with a million stars. I felt the sandy floor continue against my feet, yet I could not reconcile this with the vast emptiness below. A nausea gripped me and I tried to look forward to avoid these hideous images. This seemed the best option, for here was a literal nothing. A plunging darkness into which I plunged, yet staring into this emptiness was better than the vast cosmos beneath me or the baleful shapes of fog that seemed to drift so close either side.
The interminable passage went on and on. Yet it seemed now as if the mist like forces were not content to occupy the periphery. I could feel and see that they encroached further into the void before me, whispering things as they did so. At one point another hand took my other hand and began to lead me to one side. I felt so lost that I could not at first remember which hand Ambrose held onto and which hand was newly grasped. It was only with a small remainder of consciousness that I managed to remember that Ambrose’s hand was warm and that this other hand was cold. I tried to let it go but it made no odds. Cold fingernails bit tightly into my hand and it tried to guide me to its way with more force. I responded with resistance and determination not to release the warm grip of Ambrose’s hand. The hand pulled me fiercely now and I began to feel it less as a hand at all and more as a suction as if my arm were stuck in some vertical quagmire. I tried to pull it back only to discover to my horror I could not feel my arm at all! There was the sensation of having the awareness of an arm but no corporeality that I could exercise against the dragging force that pulled me towards it. I gripped Ambrose hand with every ounce of strength in my remaining arm and lurched on through whatever void my legs moved in. The wind whistled, the misty eddies rustled, the power dragged at my non-arm and I screamed at the absolute desolation of my senses.